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November 26, 2014

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Health care:

UMC announces second, bigger round of layoffs

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Sam Morris

University Medical Center

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 | 6:33 p.m.

A second round of layoffs are coming to University Medical Center, officials announced today, less than six months after the financially troubled hospital had its first batch of layoffs.

Today’s layoffs eliminated 285 positions working as nurses, office assistants and other support staff. Most doctors who provide care at UMC aren’t directly employed by the hospital.

“It’s not a good day,” said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who chairs the Board of Trustees that oversees the hospital. “I’m devastated at the idea you’ll have a number of these folks who will be unemployed.”

As part of the cuts announced today, UMC is ending its outpatient oncology, outpatient pharmacy and Lied clinic services. Further details will be released at a press conference Thursday morning, a UMC spokeswoman said.

Martin Bassick, president of the union that represents UMC employees, called the cuts "devastating." "Anyone who cares about Nevada needs to question how much patient care at UMC will suffer if these cuts are allowed to happen."

The layoffs come as UMC struggles to overcome more than a decade of financial challenges under the leadership of new chief executive officer Lawrence Barnard, who took the top job in January.

As the only public hospital in Southern Nevada, UMC provides millions of dollars of uncompensated care each year to patients without insurance, exacerbating its financial woes.

The hospital eliminated 105 positions and closed four of its satellite clinics in April in an attempt to bring down costs.

The hospital needed a $70 million subsidy from Clark County this year to balance its budget. It also took out an additional $45 million in emergency loans earlier this year to avoid a cash shortage that could have left the hospital unable to pay its bills.

“I don’t support it, I don’t agree with it all,” Weekly said of the layoffs. “But I don’t know what to tell (UMC). There’s no answer.”

Weekly said the hospital’s mounting financial challenges require it to be run more like a business.

“The days of trying to be all things to everybody, that’s come to an end at UMC,” Weekly said.

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